This is the fourth post in a series highlighting different strategic plans and aspects of strategic planning in the Federal Government. Today, we will meet the General Services Administration (GSA) and learn how collaboration and relationships were key to creating a new strategic goal that transforms how technology is used in government.
Technology is at the forefront of everything we do. It shapes the way we communicate and interact with not just our peers, and companies, but with our government. As a nation, we primarily spread and consume information through digital platforms on our computers and smartphones. We expect to access services with just a click of a button.
Websites and apps have become a critical way for the American public to interact with the government. Over the past 90 days alone, there were more than 5 billion visits to government websites.
To keep pace with this rapidly digital world, it is necessary for the Federal Government to advance its use of technology and digital services. The General Services Administration (GSA) is leading the charge to not just modernize government technology but create an outstanding user experience for any American digitally interfacing with the government.
GSA is a federal agency that provides real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the government and the American people. GSA has long played a crucial role in modernizing technology systems across government. Today, GSA is pushing beyond modernization to actively transform the government’s digital ecosystem. In their new strategic plan, GSA commits to create a digital government that delivers for the public through trusted, accessible, and user-centered technologies.
GSA’s vision is a government with strong tech capabilities. Government technology should be both easy and accessible for the public to interact with. GSA plans to develop technology solutions that can be shared within government and used on multiple projects and platforms. This technology and its design will put the user first. For example, GSA is already actively improving vote.gov and is working to increase the public’s digital access to government agencies through login.gov. And their four innovative accelerators are reinventing processes, approaches, and platforms to change the way digital services are developed and delivered.
This goal signals a new way of thinking about technology. It represents a pivot from solely working to keep legacy systems up to date to truly digitizing government and making the things we design user friendly. This goal, and the work behind it, did not happen in a vacuum. This creative thinking relied upon strong partnerships and collaboration throughout the entire process.
In the spring of 2021, when GSA was kicking off their strategic planning process, they analyzed the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration, engaged with their own leadership and stakeholders, and determined a focus on technology and customer experience was important. From there, the concept of a digital government was born. This led them down a multi-month process of exploring how to make a digital government a reality, and most importantly what strategies were needed to deliver a digital government and who were the important actors to involve.
The Technology Transformation Services (TTS) became an essential partner for this goal. TTS improves the public’s digital interactions with the government by providing technology consulting services, good-for-government shared applications, platforms, and processes to make agencies’ services more accessible, efficient, and effective for the American people. The concept of the digital government goal closely aligned to the existing work of TTS; TTS was thus named a goal lead.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2021, the strategy team and the TTS team engaged in a series of conversations to draft the goal statement, create objectives and strategies to complement the goal, and determine how to track progress. Relationship building and maintenance was key here to create a feeling of consensus and joint ownership for the goal and the work going into it.
The two teams built new relationships with each other and leveraged existing ones. They worked hand in hand to talk with stakeholders on how to create the best customer experience possible with their digital products and how to lead that effort together. They stood up a quarterly performance review to help track progress within TTS.
Star Vanamali, the Director of Outreach and Marketing at TTS, shared how the two teams came together to create a digital government goal that they were proud of. Star said that “the shared understanding, deadlines, and process of working together made it feel like the goal creation process was truly a collaboration rather than an exercise of filling out a form and turning it in.”
The collaboration between the strategy team and the TTS leadership team turned their vision for a digital government into a reality. This goal is fundamental to propelling the Federal Government forward and keeping pace with the technological world around us. Gleason Rowe, the Strategic Plan Project Lead, said that “This new strong working relationship [between the strategy team and TTS] brings more value across GSA and will make the next four years of implementing the digital government goal a better, smoother experience.”